Osomatsu-san – 17

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It seems fitting that on this of all days Osomatsu-san would deliver possibly its most inspired episode yet.

I don’t know if you’re the sort of person that follows the disc sales side of the anime industry – though if you’re a serious fan you probably should be.  If you are, you knew that Osomatsu-san was on target to be the best selling series of the Fall 2015 season – by a lot.  But even having that knowledge could hardly have prepared you for the stunning results when this week’s Blu-ray sales came in: Osomatsu-san Volume 1 sold 80,000 combined copies.

80 thousand.  I’m going to give that a minute to sink in.

Ready?

Osomatsu-san - 17 -1Let’s cut right to it – that is a ridiculous number.  Silly.  As inflated as Stalker was, it underestimated Vol. 1 by 57% on DVD and 111% on Blu-ray.  Titles popular with female fans often exceed Stalker estimates because of strong sales at Animate!, but this is almost unprecedented.  Look at it this way – the amount this volume was underestimated would have been enough to make it the #1 seller of the season by a more than 2-1 margin.  Chew on that.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -3There are so many fascinating aspects to this unbelievable story, starting with the fact that a reboot of a 1960’s manga/1980’s family anime is now on-track to become only the second 100K anime volume of the millennium (120K seems a reasonable guess, as this week was actually only 4 days worth of sales).  Some otaku have predictably tried to dismiss this as a fluke (“Event ticket bump!”) and expressed chagrin that a “fujo show” just blew their NisiOisin and idol shows out of the water like Jamie Hyneman to a Yugo.  But these kinds of numbers categorically refute the notion that something like a seiyuu  event (popular as these guys are) could be responsible, or that this is a series that appeals to one demographic.  Just the BD sales alone would have been easily the top-seller of the season, for crying out loud.  Osomatsu-san has left the mortal world behind is now in the realm of cultural phenomena.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -4Just why did this happen – and how high will it go?  The series average will certainly place it in the top 10 of all-time, probably the top five.  Will it catch the all-time leaders, Bakemonogatari and Madoka Magica?  Probably not – but even so, this represents a commercial earthquake rarely seen in anime.  Without doubt, Osomatsu-san’s creators started this series out – literally from the beginning – as a satirical attempt to cash in on female otaku trends.  And I can’t imagine they could have imagined they’d succeed as well as they have, not remotely – but they’re certainly appealed to a much wider range of fans than that.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -5I would humbly submit, however, that a major reason Osomatsu-san has been so successful has been because it’s just so damn funny – and it speaks to a generation of Japanese anime fans of both genders who understand all the jokes and appreciate its almost-unerringly accurate depiction of NEET trials and tribulations.  And it’s both utterly fearless and restlessly creative, constantly plowing new ground in terms of format.  Last week was a brilliant “Mad Max” parody, this time around it’s “Jyuushimatsu Matsuri” – a series of ten or so short vignettes all built around the brother who’s making a strong case (along with Karamatsu) for being the biggest breakout character of the series.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -6There was a ton of brilliance here, showing off the seemingly endless ways Osomatsu-san can go for the laugh.  It doesn’t get any more self-referential than Jyuushimatsu having a booth at Comiket selling “BL” (for “Baseball”) doujins about “catchers”, “switch-hitters” and “reversibles” (and Choromatsu wanting to buy a “switch-hitter”).  Then there’s Jyuushimatsu visiting Todomatsu at the hospital like a demented Babe Ruth.  And “Jyuushmatsu-pan” flying a bored Sachiko around showing off baseball sites, before leaving her stranded in the Dominican Republic.  Or Jyuushimatsu getting steroids from Dekapan, only to end up with testes the size of wrecking balls.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -7I think my favorite bit of the week, though, was the “Concepts” sketch – because it really showed off just how smart and avant-garde this series can be.  It was absolutely brilliant, especially when Jyuushimatsu got so reductionist that he turned first himself and them everything (and everyone) else into their representative Kanji.  Not only was it visually stunning, but when one considers that Kanji is a representative (pictographic and ideographic rather than a syllabary, which is he role of Kana) language, it was incredibly deep too.

Osomatsu-san - 17 -8The thing with Jyuushimatsu is that one can never stop wondering whether there’s something dark and scary hiding under there – and the series knows this, and plays to that sense brilliantly.  The brothers want to know, too – where did it all change?  And it’s not so easy to guess, either, because while the boy in the scrapbooks seems to have “turned” between the 9th and 10th grades, the baby in the oldest pictures has a suspicious open-mouthed grin on his face.  Keeping us guessing is just one of the many things Osomatsu-san does brilliantly, and it’s always full of surprises – but never more than this week, both on-screen and off.  It’s one of the most unlikely stories you’ll ever see in anime, and thank goodness this fandom still has the capacity to shock the hell out of me.

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11 comments

  1. r

    that episode was so Jyushimatsu. the energy, the randomness, the human emotions. gahhhhh

  2. D

    It’s really gratifying to see a show that’s this good get the sales it so richly deserves.
    I was only thinking that given the format, this show could run and run, and given those sales I’d expect it will.
    HUSTLE HUSTLE!
    MUSCLE MUSCLE!

  3. g

    Fun festival! Jyushimatsu is synonym of fun. 😉 It’s brilliant how much variety of comedy sub-genres you can have, not only in two seasons of anime, but even in an one episode. There was a nod for original Osomatsu-kun, where not only brothers had different personalities, but it was acknowledged Ichi and Jyushi had closer relationship. But it was Choromatsu and his inner otaku at Comket.
    I’m glad the anime it’s success and there was news at ANN that they think to continue it (of course, I would be very surprised if they didn’t).
    P.S.: And on the Internet somewhere I saw subbed exclusive BD episode 3.5 (in place of the episode 1).

  4. g

    Wait! What? Now you have even functioning emoticons?!

  5. I have yet to locate that episode in any of the usual locations…

  6. e

    @Chrysostomus: thank you THANK YOU THANK YOU for that link Sir/Lady Goldmouth. Or given the medium and nature of your priceless tip… Goldfinger? >D. Awashed in Ascended Virgin God light I can now leave my mortal slug shell behind!

  7. C

    Yes, I think Osomatsu-san’s success can be attributed to how it has something for everyone. Fujos can love it, regular comedy fans can love it too, Gintama fans, fans of the old show and manga, fans who look out for their favorite seiyuu, et cetera et cetera.

    Yet it’s onbious to anyone that a huge slice of that pie are the fujo bucks. I’m no expert, but they seem to pick up whatever’s trending on Twitter and Pixiv.

    Speaking of the Juushimatsu Festival, I really didn’t like this one too much… but I did LOVE episode 3.5! I do enjoy the old format of three to four skits per episode.

  8. G

    Crazy and fun as usual this was, I hope we can still occasionally go back to the longer format episodes, like the Iyayo and Chibimi skit. I have hope based on the episode preview. Sheeehhh.
    I have to admit I love Nakayuu so the pachinko segment worked best for me, I’m too much of a Karamatsu garlz. The kanji segment was also interesting to ponder, given how the audience today is so visual-oriented.
    Based on the sales figures, I guess the potential for future seasons would be a no-brainer.

  9. “Iyami’s Revenge” is one of the chapter titles in the preview, so it looks as if he’s finally going to back in the spotlight.

  10. e

    I thought episode #15 job interview sketch had the maximum Jyushi Power so far but oh I wrong I was. Blissfully wrong. So blissful words are failing me at last.
    Yet I can articulate on two points…
    1) my allegedly limited experience notwthstanding, reversibles tend to be a good clue of quality ball game in that field :p .
    2) Loved all the sketches – the language one was brilliant especially – but the pachinko one had extra Karamatsu goodness. His acting there killed me. Oh my bad-not boy :,). Plus under the ethical betrayal dilemma it had Jyushi losing his marbles. Literally. Oh my doll of genki darkness boy :,).

    P.S.: I liked the first OP and ED more but that glimpse of Demiurgic Dayon in the new OP? Suki da.

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